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NY Outdoor News Article / Proposed Changes to Trout Regulations

I just wanted to post this article that has raised some serious questions about future management of Trout in NY State.

Now is the time to speak up to the DEC. The new plan if implemented is sure to have a negative effect on the Wild Trout waters in the Upper Delaware Region.

I have also pasted a copy of a letter written by Ed VanPut in opposition to the new proposals.

Baxter House Outfitters concurs with Mr. Van Put's conclusion regarding the proposals.

All Anglers need to speak up. Here is where to write and call-

1. write a letter and or email to the Coldwater Fisheries Leader who is the impetus behind this change to let him know of your concern.

Fred G. Henson

Coldwater Fisheries Unit Leader, Division of Fish and Wildlife

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

625 Broadway, 5th Floor, Albany, NY 12233-4753

P: (518) 402-8901

2. copy Mike Flaherty, DEC R3 Fisheries Manager

Michael J. Flaherty

Fisheries Manager – Region 3, Division of Fish and Wildlife

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561

P: (845) 256-3066 | F: (845) 255-9219 | |

3. copy of your letter to the DEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos.

Basil Seggos, Commissioner

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

625 Broadway

Albany, NY 12233-1010

DEC sells ‘new approach’ to stream trout

By Steve Piatt Editor Cicero, N.Y. —

DEC’s proposed “new approach” to inland trout stream management would include simplified regulations, more fishing opportunity, bigger stocked trout (but also fewer of them), and a high priority and value placed on wild trout and wild trout waters. The ambitious plan has been unveiled by DEC fisheries staff at a series of statewide public meetings; it would not be put into effect until the 2021 season following a regulatory process that will include another public comment period. DEC Region 7 Fisheriers Manager Dave Lemon, who gave the presentation at the Cicero meeting, said the plan makes “a clear distinction between wild trout and stocked trout management,” and sets parameters that will determine whether a water receives stocked trout. “This is a big picture, looking at what we think we want to do moving forward,” Lemon said. The plan, if advanced, would: • establish a catch-and-release, artificial luresonly season from Oct. 16-March 31. • set trout stocking criteria based on public access, size of the stream, fishing pressure and water and habitat quality. • establish a “stocked-extended” category for higher quality waters, which would receive stockings every other week over an eight-week period in the spring (four stockings). Other stocked waters would receive a single spring planting of fish. • set harvest regulations for stocked waters (five trout daily, with no more than two over 12 inches in length) and stocked-extended streams (three fish daily, with no more than one over 12 inches). • create three categories of wild trout waters (Wild, Wild-Quality and Wild-Premier), with separate harvest regulations for each. “Wild” trout waters would be governed under “5 and 2” regulations; Wild-Quality would be managed under a three-fish daily limit, with only one fish over 12 inches; and Wild-Premier waters would have a one-trout daily creel limit (any size). • operate under a stocking policy in which 10% of all stockings would include 2-year-old fish of 12-14 inches. Currently, those fish are planted in (See Trout Meetings Page 30)

separate stockings. But the plan comes with a trade off: it will mean fewer trout overall will be stocked, since DEC’s hatchery production is based on pounds of fish reared and larger fish would mean fewer trout based on available space in the facilities. It’s also likely some waters that are currently stocked will no longer receive fish, a move based primarily on a lack of fishing pressure on those streams. The plan sets a management policy in which “trout stream reaches will be managed based on a combination of their ecological and recreational potential, with a clear distinction between wild trout and stocked trout management.” It also delineates between the management of stocked and wild trout, with a guiding rule that “Wild trout can be present in a stocked reach, but hatchery trout will not be stocked in a reach managed for wild fish.” The proposal, which has met with general approval – along with plenty of questions – during the series of statewide meetings, would replace DEC’s current policy, which is over 30 years old. The plan is also a product of a series of 16 public meetings in 2017 in which angler feedback was received. DEC officials came away from those sessions with a clear message from anglers on several fronts: • wild trout have high value; • stocked trout disappear too quickly in many instances; • a diversity of fishing experiences and where they occur is desired; • angler satisfaction is based on many factors, not just catch rate; • habitat is important for good fishing and has intrinsic value itself. Two more public meetings remained: Monday, Nov. 4, in the Orange County Community College Great Room in Kaplan Hall, One Washington Center, Newburgh, and Tuesday, Nov. 12, in the Plattsburgh Town Hall, 151 Banker Road, Plattsburgh. Management categories Stocked: Waters where there is a limited abundance of wild trout, water temperature is constrained; more than 10 feet wide and seeing more than 75 angler hours per acre, per year. Those waters will receive a single spring stocking. Stocked-Extended: Waters with suitable summer habitat, more than 20 feet wide, with good public access and receiving at least 150 angler hours per acre, per year. Those streams will receive stockings every other week for eight weeks (four stockings). Wild-Quality: Streams with high-quality habitat, more than 10 feet wide, with more than 40 pounds of trout per acre or more than 300 adult trout per mile. Wild-Premier: More than 20 feet wide, with excellent habitat, extensive public access, holding big, wild trout, with more than 60 pounds of trout per acre or more than 500 wild trout per mile, seeing more than 150 angler hours per acre. Wild: A broad array of classified trout waters, including small headwater streams; large, unproductive waters; which may be habitat limited, in a remote location with limited access.

Ed Van Put’s commentary (provided in person at 11/4/19 hearing)

I am here today because I read an article in New York Outdoor News titled “DEC sells ‘new approach’ to stream trout.” Among the items mentioned were “simplified regulations,” “more fishing opportunities,” and “a high priority and value placed on wild trout and wild trout waters.” I was not exactly sure what was meant by “simplified regulations” – I hope that “simplified" does not mean a reduction of protective special regulations.

One of the desires that all serious trout fishers have is to increase the populations of wild trout; however, increasing the numbers of wild trout in our streams and rivers can be extremely difficult. I have heard the remark “why doesn’t the DEC stop stocking hatchery trout” many times, the thought being that if the stocking was halted there would be more wild trout – but as all of you know it is not that simple.

I moved to the Beaverkill/Willowemoc area of the Catskills 54 years ago and worked as a Principal Fish & Wildlife Tech in Region 3 for 40 of those years. I fished the Beaverkill and Willowemoc Creek but also the East and West Branches of the Delaware and the Delaware River. When I learned to distinguish between hatchery trout and wild and holdover trout, I began keeping an angling diary of my fishing experiences; that was in 1969 when we were still known as the New York State Conservation Department. It has always been my belief that a 20- inch trout caught in a stream or river is a hallmark not only of the angler’s success, but of the river’s management; nowadays trout of that size are far more common than when I began fishing this area in the early 1960s.

Today I can report that the fishing has greatly improved, as did the wild trout population along the East and West Branches of the Delaware and, to some degree, the lower Beaverkill. I believe these improvements are the result of better water releases, but more importantly, are due to the special regulations imposed over the years by Region 4. The opportunity to increase wild trout populations does not occur often, and I do understand the desire to simplify regulations; but I hope that "simplifying regulations" does not mean a reduction in fisheries management. Special regulations are fisheries management, and to ensure success at improving fisheries, they are necessary.

What I am saying is that in this instance, the success of special regulations today shows that there is not much wrong with the old approach here in the Catskills.

The article also mentioned a plan to “establish a catch-and-release, artificial lures only season from Oct. 16 to March 31.” This is “year-round” trout fishing and would allow angling at a time when trout are spawning and hopefully adding more wild fish to the population. Should anglers really be allowed to fish for, and essentially pursue, harass, stress, and bother trout that are trying to reproduce naturally? To allow fishing when trout are spawning is wrong; it is not sport fishing, it is taking advantage of a situation when trout are vulnerable, exposed and defenseless. Let’s not exploit our wild trout population - this practice should not be encouraged.

Throughout my career with the Bureau of Fisheries it was always my understanding that our goal was to improve fishing. How does a regulation such as this improve fishing? I am greatly concerned that this is a leap backwards. This regulation appears to be the same as that applied to the Great Lakes and their tributaries - “all year” trout fishing - but the Catskills are not the Great Lakes. As a fisherman I would hope that you would want trout to spawn successfully and thereby, increase the wild trout population.

During my years in Region 3, I participated in spawning surveys on the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Chestnut Creek, the lower Neversink, tributaries of the Delaware River and Rondout Reservoir. And on occasion I have witnessed the spawning run that occurs above Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County when considerable numbers of large trout travel up the East Branch and into its tributaries. In the smaller streams, like the Bushkill and Dry Brook, they concentrate by the hundreds in small pools. Even if you were to cast a lure into one of these pools and a trout does not take it, you are still likely to foul hook fish just by reeling in. In smaller streams I have seen trout, in their anxiety, beach themselves and struggle to get back into the water.

I cannot even imagine what spawning streams will look like if the public were allowed to fish when trout are spawning. The trout's behavior during this time is irregular, and they are highly visible. It would not take anglers long to find and exploit these situations; there will be hooking mortality and loss of eggs due to wading and walking on and through trout redds. In this age of cell phones and selfies it could become a circus, with photos of large spawning trout featured on social media that could find their way onto websites of unscrupulous fishing guides.

This “new approach” sounds like a blanket regulation that can only be hurtful, not helpful, to improving and increasing the wild trout populations in our Catskill rivers and streams. I ask that you not impose this regulation here in the Catskills.

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